Maria Mantas
Executive Director
maria[at]svconnections.org

Maria is the chief spokesperson for the organization. Her main role is to provide project oversight, conduct outreach, and raise funds for Northwest Connections and Swan Ecosystem Center. Maria participates as an officer of the Board of Directors and is a member of the Board's Executive Committee, as well as oversees the work of both organizations' exceptional staff. Maria’s professional career is deeply rooted in the Swan Valley where she first worked as a Botanist for the Flathead National Forest, then later as the Science and Stewardship Director for The Nature Conservancy where she played a key role in the conservation of over 65,000 acres in the Swan through the Montana Legacy Project.


Adam Lieberg

Adam Lieberg
Conservation Program Coordinator
adam
[at]svconnections.org

Adam is Northwest Connections' Conservation Program Coordinator.  He is an accomplished naturalist with superb outdoor skills.  Adam's primary field work relates to the monitoring of rare carnivores such as lynx, fisher and wolverine.  He is also active with grizzly bear monitoring and co-leads Swan Valley Bear Resources, a collaborative group that works to reducing bear-human conflicts.

Adam has an Environmental Studies degree from the University of Montana and has worked on a number of research projects in the region.  He is a lead instructor at Northwest Connection, and is known for his excellent ability to connect with a wide diversity of people.

Adam lives in the Swan Valley and can often be found spending his free time tracking animals, exploring new country, or pushing himself to learn more about the natural world.


Andrea Stephens

Andrea Stephens
Education Program Coordinator
andrea
[at]svconnections.org

Andrea Stephens is Northwest Connections' Education Program Director.   She is an instructor for the Wildlife in the West Field Program and the Watershed Dynamics course of the Landscape and Livelihood Field Semester.  Andrea also leads Northwest Connections aquatic field work.  Currently she serves as co-chair of the Swan Lands Native Fish Committee where she is championing the conservation of west slope cutthroat trout populations.

Andrea earned a Master's degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a Bachelor's degree in Natural Science and Geology from the University of Puget Sound. She has worked for Northwest Connections for fifteen years.  Andrea is one of those rare instructors who can translate complex scientific concepts to all audiences.   She is an expert naturalist and an outstanding teacher.

Andrea and her husband have two daughters.  When she is not raising a family or leading Northwest Connections programs, she teaches outdoor skills courses for the Aerie Backcountry Medicine.


Rebekah Rafferty

Rebekah Rafferty
Education Program Coordinator
rebekah
[at]svconnections.org

Rebekah is Northwest Connections' Education Program Associate.  She conducts outreach to students and professors from around the country to promote the field study opportunities at Northwest Connections.

Rebekah is currently completing her Master's degree in Social Science, with an emphasis in Environment & Community, from Humboldt State University. Her focus is on wolves and the ability of ranchers to mitigate livestock depredation. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz.  She is a primary instructor for Wildlife in the West.

Rebekah likes to write, hike, track critters through the forest, and stay busy learning as much of Montana's natural history as she possibly can.


Sara Halm
Education Program Associate
Rare Carnivore Monitoring Field Technician

sara[at]svconnections.org

As the Education Program Associate, Sara works closely with lead instructors both in the field and behind the scenes. She also works as a field technician on Northwest Connections' Rare Carnivore and Native Fish monitoring programs. She is passionate about connecting people to their environment and cultivating enthusiasm for nature.

Sara earned a degree in Environmental Science, with a focus in conservation and wildlife biology, at the University of Vermont. Sara first came to Montana as a Wildlife in the West student in 2011, and has been enamored with the Southwest Crown and the Swan Valley ever since.


Susan Novosel
Marketing Coordinator
susan
[at]svconnections.org

Susan Novosel is Northwest Connections' Marketing Coordinator.  Susan worked for decades in the fast paced world of advertising back east. Since moving to the Swan Valley over ten years ago she has lent her skills to Northwest Connections managing the website and overseeing all aspects of communications.

Susan Novosel

Grace Burgess
Office Manager
grace
[at]svconnections.org

Grace Burgess is Northwest Connections' Office Manager.  She worked in several capacities with military and government agencies in Virgina before moving to the Swan Valley in 2005. Grace provides financial and clerical support services to all of Northwest Connections programs.  Grace and her husband love the outdoors and enjoy exploring Montana by horseback.

Grace Burgess

Mike Stevenson
Field Technician

Mike Stevenson, a native Montanan and long time woodsman of the Swan Valley and Bob Marshall Wilderness, also has a firm grasp of the site specific ecology of several of our threatened and endangered species. Mike works as a master woodworker and building contractor, and contributes to Northwest Connections' monitoring and education programs part time. Mike enjoys journeying across the mountains to the Blackfoot Indian Reservation where both he spends time with family and old friends.

Mike Stevenson

Emily K. McCall
Rare Carnivore Monitoring Field Technician
and Resident Education Assistant for Landscape & Livelihood '15

Emily is the 2015 Resident Education Assistant for Landscape & Livelihood. She graduated from SUNY College at Brockport with a Bachelors of Science in terrestrial and aquatic ecology, and is an alumna of the 2013 Landscape & Livelihood program. Emily grew up in Western New York near Lake Ontario and has done field work in the Florida Everglades, the North Dakota prairie, the Missouri Ozarks, and in her own state. Emily is a freelance illustrator in her spare time, she also love to run, hike, read, dabble in ukulele and archery, and experiment with food. 


Josh Blouin
Rare Carnivore Monitoring Field Technician

Josh Blouin will be spending his first winter out of school working as a field technician for the Rare Carnivore Project. He first came to the Swan Valley in 2013, as a student of Wildlife in the West. He graduated with a degree in Wildlife Biology from his home state school, the University of Vermont. He has spent a summer in a cabin with no running water or electricity while working with black bears in Northern Minnesota, and spent this past summer living in Yosemite National Park studying bats. 

 

NwC-intern-Josh-Blouin.jpg

NwC-intern-Sophie-Hainline.jpg

Sophie Hainline
Rare Carnivore Monitoring Field Technician

Sophie was born in Missoula but spent her childhood romping through Condon and exploring the valley. She returned to Missoula where she graduated from high school and spent the following year as an Au Pair in New Zealand. She currently attends the University of Montana, where she is working towards a degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on education and a minor in Nonprofit Administration. 

Sophie attended Northwest Connections’ Landscape & Livelihood program in the fall of 2014, and attributes her interest and love for natural history to her upbringing in the Swan. She has spent the past few summers working in Alaska as a naturalist for the Alaska Nature Guides where she developed place-based, experiential education programs that focused on outdoor leadership.


Guest Instructors

A diversity of guest speakers round out the instructional staff for our field programs. Swan Valley community members, local and regional biologists, agency personnel, business owners and environmentalists serve as speakers, hosts and guides. All of our speakers contribute to our field programs through their deep knowledge of the region's ecology, economy and community. See a sampling of some of the speakers students may meet →



IMAGE CREDIT: Top - Steven Gnam